Ways to Relieve Acid Reflux (GERD, Heartburn)

Medically Reviewed on 8/27/2020

12 ways to alleviate acid reflux

Backflow of acid from the stomach into the mouth is called acid reflux
Backflow of acid from the stomach into the mouth is called acid reflux

Patients suffering from acid reflux may try the below steps:

  • Eating sparingly and slowly: Patients can try eating small meals more frequently rather than three large meals daily to reduce acid reflux symptoms. The food must be eaten in small bites and chewed properly.
  • Reducing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle: Obesity causes the lower esophageal sphincter to go lax, decreasing the pressure that holds the sphincter closed. This leads to reflux and heartburn. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with reducing body weight can help in decreasing the symptoms of acid reflux
  • No smoking: Nicotine relaxes the esophageal sphincter causing symptoms of heartburn, so quitting the habit of smoking may help in reducing the symptoms of acid reflux. 
  • Avoiding carbonated beverages: Carbonated beverages may make a person burp, which sends acid into the esophagus. Quitting the habit of or avoiding carbonated beverages and drinking water instead of sparkling water can curb the symptoms of acid reflux. 
  • Avoiding certain foods: People with acid reflux may be instructed to eliminate some foods that are more likely than others to trigger reflux, including fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coffee, tea, chocolate, and alcohol
  • Staying up after eating: When standing, or even sitting, gravity alone helps keeps acid in the stomach, where it belongs. It is recommended to finish eating three hours before going to bed. This means no naps after lunch and no late suppers or midnight snacks.
  • Don't move too fast: Avoiding vigorous exercise or strenuous workout for a couple of hours after eating can curb the symptoms of acid reflux. 
  • Taking medications: Some medications such as postmenopausal estrogen, tricyclic antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory painkillers can relax the sphincter or can irritate the esophagus. Identifying and curbing such medications after discussing with a doctor can curb acid reflux symptoms.
  • Adjusting sleeping position: Most acid reflux occurs during sleep. To prevent nighttime attacks, patients may need to position their head at an angle, higher than the abdomen. The head of the bed should be elevated to a minimum of 30°, perhaps with a firm foam-rubber wedge or by putting bricks under the bedposts. Lying flat down should be avoided, especially right after eating. 
  • Limit alcohol: Drinking alcohol may increase the severity of acid reflux and heartburn. It aggravates symptoms by increasing stomach acid, relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter and impairing the ability of the esophagus to clear itself of acid.
  • Limit caffeine intake: Coffee temporarily weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the risk of acid reflux. Similar to coffee, caffeine weakens the lower esophageal sphincter. 
  • Limit citrus juice: Drinking citrus juice makes acid reflux symptoms worse as citrus juice irritates the lining of the esophagus.

What is gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD)?

Repeated backflow of acid from the stomach into the food pipe or mouth is called gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD).

Three conditions can cause GERD:

  • Poor tone of lower part of the esophagus (food pipe)
  • Too much acid in the stomach
  • Delayed stomach emptying

The lower esophageal sphincter is a muscle that controls the passage of food between the esophagus (food pipe) and stomach. Sometimes, this muscle does not close completely, leading acid from the stomach to flow back into the throat or esophagus. This abnormal condition is called gastroesophageal reflux or acid reflux. 

Symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux include sour taste in the mouth, dry cough, and burning sensation in the throat. Sometimes, it may cause a heartburn (pain in the upper abdomen and chest that sometimes feel like an individual is having a heart attack).

When these symptoms become recurrent and severe, it is called GERD.

Which type of a diet can fight GERD?

A certain type of food or diet can help fight gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), which include the following:

  1. Chicken breasts: Skinless chicken breasts that may be baked should be included. Lean and packed with protein, chicken breasts are very easy to digest and can be a good and easy diet for patients with GERD.
  2. Plain water: Frequently consuming water can make the digestion process better and curb GERD symptoms
  3. Ginger: A diet or food with ginger can calm the over acidic stomach. Ginger tea may also be included in the diet. 
  4. Watermelon: Watermelon is a low-acid fruit that won’t trigger symptoms and can be added to the routine diet to fight GERD. 
  5. Brown rice: Brown rice is a good substitute in the regular diet rather than white rice. 
  6. Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a better choice because it has plenty of fiber and may give sufficient energy to the body. 
  7. Potatoes, carrots, turnips, and parsnips: They’re full of healthy complex carbohydrates and digestible fiber.
  8. Olive oil: Body needs fat to work right; olive oil is a good substitute rather than regular cooking oil. 
  9. Lettuce and celery: Reflux can make us gassy, so foods such as beans and dried fruits can cause GERD. Mild veggies such as lettuce and celery are healthy, low in calories, easy on the stomach, and they won’t cause more gas.
  10. Fennel: It is low in acid, which can help soothe the upset stomach that can be both a cause and symptom of GERD. Patients can roast it and serve it as a main course, sauté it as a side dish, or slice it raw and add it to a salad.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/27/2020
References
9 ways to relieve acid reflux without medication: (https://www.health.harvard.edu/digestive-health/9-ways-to-relieve-acid-reflux-without-medication).

Foods That Fight GERD: (https://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/ss/slideshow-foods-fight-gerd)